Why Agency Vet Matt Britton Is Getting Out of Influencer Marketing and Into AI

Meet Suzy, the B2B version of Siri

Matt Britton is betting big on AI. Courtesy of Suzy
Headshot of Lauren Johnson

Less than a year ago, agency vet Matt Britton rejoined influencer marketing platform Crowdtap as CEO to help brands make sense of creators and user-generated content. Now he wants to get out of influencer marketing and into data.

Britton founded Crowdtap in 2009 when it was incubated inside his Publicis-owned agency MRY. After leaving MRY, he took over Crowdtap but noticed some major issues with influencer marketing—namely, it’s a crowded space that required “people to be incentivized for creating content and sharing with brands.”

“I think the influencer space is saturated—there are publishers, agencies and ad-tech companies in it,” he said. “I think it’s pay to play—you saw that with Logan Paul and the brand safety issues, and I think it will come full circle to be the traditional endorsement model versus a brand having 3,000 influencers share content for them. I think those days are over.”

Enter Suzy: a startup that uses Crowdtap’s network of one million creators, but focuses more on data and less on content. Britton calls Suzy “a consumer intelligence company” and is unveiling the brand at South by Southwest this week. Instead of asking creators to make content, Suzy essentially serves as a platform to let brands run surveys and gather insights about consumers that can then be spun into audiences for ad targeting.

“Through my 20 years in the ad agency world, I saw how many decisions were made on guesses or hunches, but a lot of marketers are out of touch on what’s really going on,” Britton said. “This allows them to test any assumption they have instantly based on data.”

Marketers first log into the Suzy platform and can ask a question to a portion of Crowdtap’s audience. The idea is that the response to queries will help brands make data-informed decisions. Using artificial intelligence, a fashion brand can ask women who live in the Midwest and shop at Nordstrom a question about how often they shop, for example.

McDonald’s is using the tool to get feedback on menu items. And Britton said that TD Bank is testing Suzy to push out offers. The average question gets about 300 responses per hour.

More than 70 brands, including Procter & Gamble, McDonald’s, Netflix and Nestle, are using Suzy. Data and speed are critical to Britton’s pitch. Unlike survey platforms like SurveyMonkey, Suzy pulls in first-party data. And the instant turnaround on questions is also faster than the months that it typically takes marketers to orchestrate a brand study.

Once the survey is finished, brands can then export the data and target people with digital ads using lookalike targeting on Facebook and other platforms.

Right now, Suzy only includes users from the Crowdtap platform, but the goal is to become the business-to-business version of virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. So, Suzy will roll out a consumer-facing campaign in May with iHeartMedia encouraging people to sign up for an account to help boost its user base.

Artificial intelligence is used to help zero-in on users to ask questions to. In the future, the use cases will expand to trigger recommended questions for surveys. The company is also building AI technology that marketers could theoretically plug into their own apps.

“We want other companies to build applications on top of the Suzy layer,” Britton said. “We’re working with big hedge funds that are using it for analytical recommendations.”

More broadly, Suzy is a response to how Britton sees brands struggling to lean on insights to make sure that campaigns are representative of consumers. Just think of Pepsi’s fiasco with Kendall Jenner. Fashion brands are another example Britton said. While people in New York may be willing to pay more for clothes, the same piece of clothing may be too expensive for people in other parts of the country, Britton said.

“If you work in an office in Westchester, and you’re a brand manager, you cannot truly understand what’s going on with your consumer.”

@laurenjohnson lauren.johnson@adweek.com Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.